Israel’s first Olympic baseball team is led by an All-Star and the sport’s second-oldest player

2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifer 1- Game 1, South Africa vs. Israel
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The Israeli baseball team will make its Olympic debut later this month, headlined by four-time All-Star Ian Kinsler.

He is one of eight players on the 24-man team with Major League Baseball experience.

The 39-year-old, who made his All-Star appearances between 2008 and 2014, won the 2018 World Series with the Boston Red Sox. He also was on the U.S. team that won the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Kinsler, whose father is Jewish, became an Israeli citizen in March 2020; he is currently second baseman for the ALPB Long Island Ducks and a front-office advisor for the San Diego Padres.

Israel became a phenom on the international baseball stage in 2017. Ranked 41st in the world, the team finished sixth at its first World Baseball Classic appearance, then just missed the medal stand at its inaugural European Championships in 2019.

Israel then went on to take down the top-three teams from that event en route to winning the Africa/Europe Olympic qualifying tournament in September 2020.

This summer marks baseball’s sixth time on the Olympic program, though first since 2008, and is the first time Israel has qualified.

While Kinsler is the player with the most professional experience, it is pitcher Shlomo Lipetz who will likely be considered the leader of the team. The 42-year-old considers himself part of Israel’s first generation of baseball players and, born and raised in Tel Aviv, has helped build the national team program.

Only one Olympic baseball player has been older than Lipetz: Alan Phillips, who represented South Africa at age 44 in 2000.

In addition to his baseball career, Lipetz is currently the vice president of programming at New York’s City Winery.

Kinsler is joined in the infield by Scott Burcham, Ty Kelly, Zack Penprase and Danny Valencia.

Blake Gailen, Mitch Glaser, Assaf Lowengart and Robb Paller will man the outfield.

The catchers are Tal Erel, Ryan Lavarnway and Nick Rickles, and the pitching staff includes Jeremy Bleich, Jonathan DeMarte, Jake Fishman, Alex Katz, Jared Lakind, Alon Leichman, Lipetz, Jon Moscot, Joey Wegman, Ben Wanger, Zack Weiss and Josh Zeid.

Bleich, Kelly, Kinsler, Lavarnway, Moscot, Valencia, Weiss and Zeid have all played in the MLB.

Ten of the players represented Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Team Israel is coached by Eric Holtz, who has managed the national team since late 2017.

Olympic baseball play begins Wednesday, July 28. Israel plays South Korea on July 29 and the U.S. July 30 in Group B.

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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